Blues singer Dana Fuchs sounds so much like Janis Joplin that producers of an off-Broadway show about the late rock singer basically begged her to come in and audition.
Fuchs, who performs at 10 p.m. Saturday in Headwaters Park as part of BBQ Ribfest, says she didnt even know any of Joplins songs at the time.
Still, Fuchs only had to get to the scream part in Piece of My Heart, she says, when someone at the judges table stopped the audition to ask, Can you start in eight days?
The show Love, Janis debuted in 2001.
More than a decade has passed, and Fuchs says she still doesnt perform Joplins music in concert.
I strictly avoid it. I do, she says. When people ask me if I am going to play any Janis, I always says, How about some Dana, instead? Itll be in the same spirit as Janis.
Fuchs was once offered employment as a Joplin impersonator whose job description involved wandering around casinos. Her response to the invitation – Id rather blow my brains out now, thank you – would seem to indicate that Fuchs doesnt admire Joplins music.
But the opposite is true, she says.
Its just that she believes it is important for artists to tell their own stories and bring audiences in on those stories in such a way that the stories resonate.
Fuchs is the younger sister of two musicians who passed away in heartbreaking ways.
Her sister committed suicide, and her brother died from brain cancer after struggling with mental illness for many years.
After her brother died last year, Fuchs realized she needed to find a new justification for pursuing her music career as doggedly as she had.
Life on the road, she says. You easily lose connection to people. The last couple of years, I have been asking myself, What is this career? What does it mean to me?
My priorities shifted as a result of that, Fuchs says. I mean, what am I doing this for if not to give something to people?
Anything less and I feel meaningless and shallow. I cant sustain a career on the road if its just about, Listen to me! Look at me!
Fuchs says her favorite songwriting method these days is to base songs on stories that fans have told her.
I always go out and do a little greet after every show and I love hearing peoples stories, she says.
Relating those stories as songs is what sustains me out there.
Fuchs career thus far has spanned coasts and encompassed the Great White Way and the Entertainment Capital of the World.
In 2005, Fuchs was tapped to play Sadie in Julie Taymors Beatles-inspired movie Across the Universe.
Afterward, people advised Fuchs to move to Los Angeles and give acting a sincere shot, but the prospect didnt hold much appeal.
At that point, I had put so much time into music, she says. I didnt want to work to break into a business that was just as hard and that I wasnt even sure I had the skills for.